Sing Sing

Text from William Wade

On the east bank of the Hudson, thirty-three miles from New York, is Sing Sing, a pleasant village containing about two thousand, five hundred inhabitants. Its site is elevated and uneven. It contains Mount Pleasant Academy for boys, with a fine marble edifice, and a similar institution for young ladies. An object of much interest here is the Croton Aqueduct Bridge. Sing Sing furnishes great quantities of fine building marble, the quarries being chiefly wrought by the convicts of the State prison, located here. The prison is situated half a mile south of the village. The main building is four hundred and eighty-four feet long and forty-four feet wide, five stories high, and contains a thousand cells. In front and rear are various workshops, with the keeper's house, a chapel, hospital, kitchen, and storehouses. There is a separate marble building. of the Ionic order, for female convicts, with well-furnished apartments for the matrons. One hundred and thirty acres of land are attached to the whole. This prison was built in consequence of the insufficiency of the Auburn State Prison to accommodate each prisoner with a separate cell. In 1824, the agent of the Auburn prison was Elam Lynds, a man of great firmness and energy of will. The legislature having passed a law providing for the erection of another prison at Sing Sing, Captain Lynds came there with one hundred convicts, who immediately commenced building a prison for themselves. It was finished in 1829; the fifth story is an addition to the original building and was made in 1831.
The origin of the name of Sing Sing has been variously given. We subjoin two accounts. The first derives it from the Chinese Tsing Sing, the title of a celebrated governor of a Chinese city. It is said to have been brought to this country by a Dutch settler who had traded with China. According to the second account, the name comes from Indian words Ossin Sing- the place of stone.